The Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM)
ASEM (the Asia-Europe Meeting) is an informal process of dialogue
and cooperation bringing together the fifteen EU Member States and the
European Commission, with ten Asian countries (Brunei, China, Indonesia,
Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and
Vietnam). The ASEM dialogue addresses political, economic and cultural
issues, with the objective of strengthening the relationship between our two
regions, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership. The first ASEM
Summit was held in Bangkok in March 1996, giving rise to an ongoing
process including Summit-level meetings every second year, Ministerial-level
meetings in the intervening years (although now normally once a year) plus a
range of meetings and activities at the working level.
The inaugural ASEM Summit was held in Bangkok in March 1996, and
proposed the creation of a new partnership between Asia and Europe,
strengthening the relationship between our two regions by means of an
enhanced political dialogue, reinforced economic cooperation, as well as
cooperation in other areas (social, cultural and intellectual).
The second ASEM was held in London in April 1998, confirming and
enhancing the progress made over the two preceding years, and discussing in
particular the issues arising from the financial crisis in Asia.
The third ASEM was held in Seoul in October 2000, addressing inter
alia the future directions of the ASEM process into the first decade of the new
The Fourth ASEM Summit has been held in Copenhagen, September
22-24, 2002. In order to facilitate preparation for the Summit, the
Commission's Services have prepared a Working Paper, "Unity and Strength
in Diversity" .
Apart from the Summit meetings, the ASEM process is carried forward
through a series of Ministerial and working-level meetings, as well as a
number of activities arising from this.
ASEM Foreign Ministers met in Singapore in February 1997, in Berlin
in March 1999, in Beijing May 2001 and last time in Madrid in May 2002.
Reporting to Foreign Ministers, a Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) is held
normally twice a year. The last SOM took place in Lanzarote/Spain, April 2002.
ASEM Finance Ministers met in Bangkok in September 1997, in
Frankfurt in January 1999, Kobe in January 2001 (13-14). The last meeting
took place in Copenhagen on 4/5 July.
ASEM Core finance groups meet in between the Ministerial Meeting.
The last meeting took place in April in Washington.
ASEM Economic Ministers have met in Makuhari in October 1997, in
Berlin in October 1999 and in Hanoi in September 2001 and in Copenhagen
in September 2002. Reporting to Economic Ministers, a senior officials’
meeting on trade and investment (SOMTI) is held normally twice a year.
SOMTI (8th) and Investment Group (6th) meetings took place in Indonesia,
July 3-5, 2002.
Also in the economic field, an annual Asia-Europe Business Forum
(AEBF) has brought together private-sector representatives from the two
regions. The first AEBF meeting was held in Paris in October 1996, with
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subsequent meetings in Bangkok (1997), London (1998), Seoul (1999) and
Vienna (2000), Singapore (2001) and in Denmark on September 18-19, 2002
(back to back with the Economic Ministers Meeting). The next AEBF will take
place in Seoul in 2003.
A Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology was held in
Beijing in October 1999.
Another ad hoc ministerial meeting of Ministers of the Environment was
held in Beijing, January 2002.
An ASEM Ministerial Conference on Cooperation for the Management
of Migratory Flows between Europe and Asia, which adopted a Declaration
was held in Lanzarote, April 5, 2002.
Outside the official ASEM process, civil society representatives from
Asia and Europe have organised "alternative ASEM" meetings in Bangkok in
March 1996, in London in March 1998 and in Seoul in October 2000 and in
Copenhagen in September 2002.
Within this informal process of dialogue and cooperation, ASEM
activities can be grouped into three main "pillars" : political, economic, and
Within each of these fields, a number of activities have already been
given priority, including for example
· in the political field, discussions on human rights, on the protection of
children, and on the impact of globalisation; new areas of common interest
which have emerged from the recent meetings include the fight against
terrorism or the management of migratory flows
· in the economic and financial field, cooperation on reducing barriers to
trade and investment, and on financial and social policy reform; a new area of
common interest which emerged from the recent meetings is a reinforced
dialogue on issues relating to to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
· and in the cultural and intellectual field, a wide range of enhanced
contacts and dialogue between the two regions, and cooperation in the
protection of cultural heritage.
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